A HUDDERSFIELD-based business group which ran into financial troubles a year ago is planning for a brighter future.
The Lockwood-based Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce has concluded a so-called Company Voluntary Agreement a year earlier than planned – and with full repayments to all creditors who claimed.
The voluntary arrangement officially ended earlier this month when court-appointed joint supervisors filed a Certificate of Completion.
When the CVA was agreed back in January 2010, creditors allowed the chamber two years to pay back 78p in the pound.
Just a year into the arrangement and the chamber has exceeded its original offer by repaying the full debt of £260,000 to creditors.
In an unusual move, an extra 22p has been paid on top of the initial amount approved.
Andrew Choi, executive director at the chamber, said: “We exist to protect the interests of business, so it was only right and proper that we pay back the full amount.
“Pursuing a CVA was the responsible thing to do so that we could continue to support our members and fulfil our obligations to creditors.”
The chamber, which provides business representation, services, information and guidance to member firms has gained a national reputation for its detailed economic surveys and its skills in lobbying central and local government on behalf of member firms.
But it warned before Christmas last year that all of its 50 employees would have to re-apply for their posts and that some jobs would be lost as a result of deep financial problems stemming from “historic debt”.
A 30-day consultation period was launched with staff at the chamber’s premises at Lockwood Park, The Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre in Halifax and New Commerce House in Wakefield.
The move to seek a company voluntary agreement followed advice from insolvency firm Tenon Recovery in Wakefield and law firm Chadwick Lawrence with offices in Huddersfield and Wakefield.
Almost a year on and out of the CVA, the chamber still has its offices in Huddersfield, Halifax and Wakefield.
Mr Choi said: “We are committed to retaining a presence in each area so that we are accessible to businesses and can represent their interests locally.”
During the CVA period, the chamber trimmed its operations to focus on delivering membership services – a move which has returned the business to profit.
It also sold a property in Wakefield in excess of its valuation and more quickly than expected – providing a six-figure sum to count towards the repayments.
Mr Choi added: “We have had a trading surplus month-on-month since January and will make a profit for the year as a whole.
“It was nice to end the year on such a positive note, which is down to the support of our members and the patience of our creditors.
The organisation has continued to provide export facilities that meet national standards set annually by the British Chambers of Commerce – and maintain a strong networking and events programme as well as assisting more than 400 companies with the childcare vouchers scheme.
Chamber chairman David Horsman said: “I would like to thank our members and patrons who have continued to support us over the last year.”
He also paid tribute to Mr Choi, the chamber team and directors for their hard work to ensure a satisfactory outcome to the CVA and “the full restoration of the chamber of commerce”.
The Mid Yorkshire chamber was formed by the merger of the Kirklees and Wakefield Chamber of Commerce and the Halifax chamber, but traces its origins to the Huddersfield Chamber of Commerce.